This is how it all began over two decades ago...

Web design was a hobby I was drawn to in the early years of the Internet because of my background in commercial advertising and print design. After visiting Paris France for a first-time vacation,  I returned home, and in a burst of creative energy created the website "Paris, My Love." It began as an eight-page website filled with my photos and impressions of Paris. As others discovered "Paris, My Love" online, they would send brief essays, poems and photos expressing their affection for "The City of Love." My tiny website now became an ongoing labor of love that maintained a small yet steady stream of visitors.

Technical stuff: This website was built with Adobe Pagemill 1.0 twenty years ago! Every little trick and tweak I could devise using tables, .gif files and a 256 color limit are found on this little website. We were pushing lowly HTML to its limits back then!

Web Design for Women, who made the most popular web browser at that time, had a small feature on their news page entitled "Web Site of the Week." where a website considered noteworthy was chosen and promoted for a week. Much to my surprise, "Paris, My Love" was awarded that honor! Suddenly, my tiny website grew from 80 visitors a day to tens of thousands! I received lots of complimentary emails, and, a window of opportunity for starting my own web design business.

Web Design for Women 2

Many called, asking me to build websites for their businesses. I quickly developed a part-time web design business which became full-time in less than six months to keep up with the demand. "Paris, My Love," my personal travelogue, was indeed the start of Web Design Portfolio and Don Peterson as a web designer.

One of my first clients was a small, local savings bank that taught me an insightful lesson. The male bank vice-president that had the authority to hire me was not the real decision-maker in that process. The person who had enthusiastically sold my services to that vice-president was his female assistant. She was a fan of my "Paris, My Love" website and was convinced that I would be the perfect candidate for their project. Her response to that website was the most powerful salesperson I could ever have. She convinced her boss to call me and pretty much ensured that I received the assignment.

Paris travelogue 3

That taught me a lesson about marketing that I've never forgotten. While men may appear to be in control of the "purse-strings" in most businesses, the women in the office often exert enormous influence in how those dollars are spent. Therefore, I have learned to listen very carefully to how women respond to my web design, reflecting their preferences in every business-to-consumer based website I create. Their attention to detail and the emotional components of design have made my work better as a result. Also, in most cases, they do a masterful job of convincing decision-makers in the companies I serve to hire me as a web designer. They are the secret to my success!

How Started…